2024 UPDATE AND APPEAL: HELP US FENCE THE CEMETERY AND ERECT A LAPIDARIUM!
In 2020, the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage placed a memorial stone on the cemetery grounds as well as an information sign in 3 languages. Extensive cleaning followed. On October 12, 2021, the Jewish Cemetery of Tuszyn was formally recognized and marked on the map in a ceremony co-sponsored by the National Institute of Cultural Heritage of Poland, POLIN Museum and the Town of Tuszyn.
In attendance were government officials including Minister Jarosław Sellin, Minister of Culture, National Heritage & Sports, the Mayor of Tuszyn, representatives from Polin Muzeum, the rabbi and president of the Jewish community of Łódż, residents, teachers and schoolchildren from Tuszyn, and Ellen Korman Mains, representing the descendants.
Names of Jewish families in Tuszyn were read from a plaque donated by a descendant and newly installed on the large memorial stone. The ceremony was documented by news media, including radio and TV. A reception followed with presentations about the history and lives of Jews in Tuszyn.
An uplifting partner to the event was the Daffodil Project, a U.S. non-profit organization providing daffodil bulbs in memory of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust and in support of all children suffering in humanitarian crises. The Daffodil Project donated 5,000 daffodil bulbs which were planted at the site of the Jewish cemetery by students and their parents under the supervision of teacher Robert Kobylarczyk.
Our new goal is to raise the funds needed for a proper fence and for a lapidarium (sculpture of tombstone remnants). Without such a fence, the cemetery remains unprotected and too accessible to random passers-by seeking a spot to party or drink beer, leaving garbage and debris behind. We would like to prevent this scenario from a neglected past from continuing. The tombstone remnants would be placed in a sculpture or wall to give dignity to the memory of those commemorated on those stones.
Approximately $15,000 (USD) is still needed. Please consider a targeted donation for this specific and important purpose which will not only honor and protect this sacred place, but build bridges of understanding for the future. Images from the past can be seen here.
JEWS IN TUSZYN & HOW THIS PROJECT BEGAN
Tuszyn is a town of about 7,000 inhabitants, about 13 miles south of Łódź, in central Poland. Jews are thought to have first arrived there in the 17th century. During the 19th century, the Jewish population of Tuszyn more than tripled, reaching 1,248 in 1882. By then, this thriving Jewish community, including many followers of Hasidism, had already established a synagogue, a hospital, and 3 prayer houses. In the 1930s Jews comprised approximately 40% of the population and were represented on the city council.
Tuszyn’s Jewish cemetery was adjacent to the town in an area called Tuszyn-Las (Tuszyn forest). During the Shoah, Tuszyn's Jews were deported to the town of Srock, then to the ghetto in nearby Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland's first ghetto, where the majority of inhabitants were deported to Treblinka and killed. The Jewish cemetery was destroyed.
Steps away, a recreation center was built in the 1950s for the local police on the larger area of land (red area on map below) once owned by the Jewish community. Some matzevot may have been used to construct the now decrepit swimming pool. Perhaps they will be retrieved one day. Until recently, gravestones could still be found in different parts of the city. Now most of these reminders of Tuszyn's former Jewish community are gone. Until recently, the cemetery itself was overgrown and unmarked.
Despite this sad state of loss and neglect, a school teacher in Tuszyn, driven with a passion to recover the missing history of his town and to properly commemorate it, began making inquiries about this forgotten Jewish cemetery, A partnership soon developed with a Jewish descendant whose family once lived in Tuszyn. The project now has the support of the Mayor of Tuszyn, the rabbi and leaders of Jewish community of Łódź that own the cemetery, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Primary School #1 in Tuszyn, the School of Dialogue and other organizations.